Poland backs down on corruption due to Euros

Poland has said it will not seek the imminent suspension or dismissal of its Football Association (PZPN) chief despite corruption allegations because it could jeopardise the country's hosting of Euro 2012.

Many Polish lawmakers and media have urged Warsaw to seek the dismissal of PZPN head Grzegorz Lato after the country's new Sports Minister Joanna Mucha notified prosecutors he may be involved in a corruption case.

But with Poland due to co-host the European Championships with Ukraine next year - for the first time ever - Warsaw wants to avoid disputes with UEFA and is reluctant to seek introducing a temporary commissioner into PZPN.

"We are in a very particular time before the Euro 2012 and any abrupt moves are not adviseable," government spokesman Pawel Gras told Polish radio on Thursday. "But when the games end, I think we will have to heal this situation somehow."

The centre-right government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk, a keen football fan, hopes hosting Euro 2012 will help it showcase Poland's economic success despite markets malaise and has embarked on an ambitious infrastructure building programme for the tournament.

On Wednesday PZPN fired its long-standing secretary general Zdzislaw Krecina after leaked recordings last week showed him and Lato, a former striker of the Polish national team, discussing a deal their accusers say violated the law.

Lato dismisses the accusations.

In the past, PZPN has been involved in several corruption scandals, but consecutive Polish governments were forced to back down shortly after securing court orders to suspend PZPN's authorities and install temporary commissioners.

UEFA says such attempts violate the independence of PZPN, which relies largely on its own funding, from the Polish state and has previously threatened to suspend Poland's national team when Warsaw tried to step in.

"I'm not sure Bruce Lee would make it in these Augean stables. It has to be cleaned out with fire," said Eugeniusz Klopotek, lawmaker of Poland's junior coalition partner, the Peasants' Party (PSL).

Another lawmaker, Adam Hoffman of the main opposition, conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, said a total of nearly 300 PZPN members, coaches and judges have been charged with corruption offences.

"Dismissing Mr. Krecina is a step in the right direction," Mucha said on Thursday. "But for me it's just the first step, it's not enough. We need a wide-ranging discussion on systematic changes in PZPN. We need a good dialogue with UEFA on that, introducing a commissioner now is not a magic solution."